Rosa M. Cabrera, PhD : DIrector

Rosa M. Cabrera, PhD


Rosa M. Cabrera became the director of the Rafael Cintrón Ortiz Latino Cultural Center at UIC in the spring of 2011. She earned her Doctorate in Anthropology and Bachelors of Arts in Design from UIC. Cabrera has talked extensively on the role of ethnic museums and cultural centers in shaping community identity–which was the topic of her dissertation. Prior joining UIC, she was at The Field Museum where she led the "Cultural Connections" program, a partnership of more than 25 ethnic museums and cultural centers in Chicago that formed the Chicago Cultural Alliance in 2006 under her leadership. She also led a research team in a project with the Pilsen neighborhood’s Mexican and Mexican American community and the West Ridge’s South Asian community to better understand how cultural values and traditions impact residents’ understanding and practice of eco-friendly activities. She has collaborated with the museum and arts communities in national projects such as the Immigration Sites of Conscience Network, Americans for the Arts’ New Community Visions, the National Diversity Education Program, and Race: Are We So Different?, to increase public dialogue on pressing contemporary issues, while exploring the interplay between diversity and democracy.

Cabrera is affiliated faculty with the UIC Department of Anthropology, Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) Program, and the Department of Art History’s Museum and Exhibition Studies (MUSE) Program. She is also a Keller Science Action Center Associate at The Field Museum. Her research interests include: the role of museums in civic participation and community identity formation; Latino identity and citizenship; the intersections of environmental sustainability, cultural diversity, and social justice; and the role of the arts to increase public dialogue on pressing social and environmental issues.

Cabrera is a 1.5 generation immigrant from Cuba who arrived with her mother in Chicago during a grey, snowy day in the 1970’s. She calls Chicago home and loves its parks and magnificent museums, the ‘L’ (elevated train), and diverse people committed to social change.


Mario Lucero, MA : Assistant Director

Mario Lucero, MA

Assistant Director

Mario A. Lucero became the Assistant Director of the UIC Latino Cultural Center (LCC) in the fall of 2013. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Illinois Institute of Art – Schaumburg, and received his Master's in Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) from UIC. During his Master’s at UIC (Fall 2011 to Spring 2013), he was a Teaching Assistant for the LALS Program, and the Graduate Assistant & Graphic Designer for the LCC.

At the Latino Cultural Center, he coordinates and presents arts and cultural education programs to advance social and environmental justice, and facilitates Arts-Based Civic Dialogues. In 2014, he co-founded the dialogue initiative, Reimagining Masculinities, and is a co-instructor for the CC 120 Dialogue Seminar at UIC. Mario has also instructed High School Completion Courses in Spanish at Triton College since 2009.

Mario is a first-generation Latino with three younger sisters, with parents from the Mexican states of Durango and Chihuahua. Growing up in the 90s, he enjoyed playing marbles and soccer, and was a big fan of Nintendo and Sega, reading books, and drawing. Today, he enjoys the great outdoors from biking to camping with family and friends, and is always looking for the next exciting adventure! Mario currently lives in Oak Park with his wife Cynthia and their two daughters and cat Ohtli.

Edith Tovar, BA : Program Coordinator

Edith Tovar, BA

Program Coordinator

Edith Tovar was born and raised in Chicago’s Little Village community. As a first generation Mexican-American and youngest of four, she was the second in her family to graduate from a university. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish-Economics with a minor in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Further, in January of 2011, Edith was employed as a Student Worker at the Rafael Cintrón Ortiz Latino Cultural Center (LCC).  Since then, her position has changed to Program Coordinator where she continues to work with UIC students by enhancing their knowledge and appreciation for Latinx cultures through various program initiatives. Specifically Noche de Poetas (Poetry Night), a series that invites students and community members from diverse backgrounds to share and compare their life, experiences through their own poetic words and sound. Each Open Mic is in partnership with four student organizations: MeSA, SAFEHR, SJP, and UPRS.

Edith has also developed the LCC’s internship program, a yearlong opportunity for students to improve or develop specific skills like public speaking, intercultural understanding, writing, digital marketing, and etc. through particular assigned projects. The internship program allows students to use their skills and assets to think creatively on how to address and complete their project(s).

Currently, Edith is seeking a Master’s in Urban Planning and Policy at UIC with a concentration in Environmental Planning and Policy. During the 2017 Urban Planning and Policy Student Association’s 7th annual Urban Innovation Symposium Networked [for Good], Edith was part of the committee that led her to develop the Water for a Region panel. This session allowed guests to explore the different approaches of environmental justice through various lenses such as academia, government agencies, and community organizing. Her research interests include, cultural planning, Place Lab’s ethical redevelopment, water remediation efforts of the Chicago River and entrepreneurship through a green economy. Edith is a proud member of SEIU Local 73, Douglas Park Advisory Council, Chicago Fair Trade, and the American Planning Association.

Edith is also a jewelry designer! Check out her IG @yayedith_jewelry

Lena G. Reynolds, MA : Civic Engagement Educator

Lena G. Reynolds, MA

Civic Engagement Educator

Lena G. Reynolds is a third-generation Irish/Mexican Chicagoan. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Illinois in Urbana in 2010, then worked at the Chicago History Museum and the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, exploring the history of social change. She recently completed a Master's in Museum and Exhibition Studies at UIC with concentrations in History and Environmental issues. At the Latino Cultural Center (LCC), Lena has curated an exhibition for the "Chocolate: Drink of Gods, Food of Mortals" series in 2015, she organized the Center archives in preparation for the 40th anniversary September 2016, and she created grant-funded guide for the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience to help museums and cultural centers host community conversations about issues of Environmental and Climate Justice. Lena continues to lead civic dialogues and tours using the LCC mural to explore collective creative solutions for common challenges, and she is currently working on creating two traveling exhibitions to visit museums, universities, and libraries in the region: the Chocolate exhibit, and a traveling mural entitled "Awakening Hearts, Changing Lives." Lena believes in the power of cultural spaces to entertain, educate, and challenge our communities to build a more just society.